Pianist Storms Off Stage, Claims Fans Filming His Performance Mean Record Labels Won't Give Him A Contract

from the can-we-have-a-little-reality,-please dept

We’ve seen some really nutty arguments from musicians claiming that YouTube is hurting them, even as we see much more evidence of musicians becoming successful entirely because of YouTube. But this latest argument may be the nuttiest yet.

Classical pianist Krystian Zimerman stormed off the stage after spotting someone in the audience holding up a mobile phone. It’s not entirely clear how he knew they were recording video, rather than merely taking a photograph, but either way, he came back to insist that YouTube was somehow destroying his career:

On returning, he told the audience that he had lost many recording projects and contracts because music managers had told him: “We’re sorry, that has already been on YouTube.” “The destruction of music because of YouTube is enormous,” he added.

Now, let’s think about this for a second. This makes absolutely no sense. A shaky smartphone recording of a live performance of a song does little to nothing to take away from a recorded version of the song. The two are entirely different. Furthermore, such a video is actually much more likely to drive more interest in both the overall works of the musician and in going to see them perform live.

Now, I can understand why some musicians might find it generally distracting, and might even put in place general rules within the venue that require people not to film on their mobile phones. And, if such rules are in place, it seems completely fine for the venue to ask those who violate the rules to leave. But to argue that such actions are “destroying the music business” is simply not supportable in reality. And, frankly, if music managers have actually told him that he’s lost a record contract because a performance is on YouTube, then it seems pretty clear that he’s dealing with clueless music managers. If a music manager said that, my first reaction would be to find a reality-based music manager, rather than a completely clueless one, because the manager who reacts that way is clearly not going to be helpful for the rest of my career.

Unfortunately, others, including the person behind the festival took the bizarre complaints even further:

Franz Xaver Ohnesorg, the festival’s director, said he felt a great deal of sympathy towards Zimerman, one of the star performers. “What happened is theft, pure and simple,” he told German media.

Theft of what? And how? This goes beyond just the whole “it’s not theft if nothing is missing” argument. This is not theft under any possible interpretation of “theft.” This was just a fan wishing to create a digital memory of the experience, and possibly share that with others, such that others might look forward to more of Zimerman’s music and performances.

Again, I recognize that some musicians might find it distracting, but the focus should be on that, rather than bogus claims about it being “theft” or laughable claims about recording contracts not granted because of fan videos.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Pianist Storms Off Stage, Claims Fans Filming His Performance Mean Record Labels Won't Give Him A Contract”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Recording artists

Well, if people are assuming he’s a hack, that’s probably because his niche is not something that makes him famous outside of a specific fanbase. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not hard to think “someone I’ve never heard of” + “stupid lashing out” + “ridiculous claims blaming others for failure” = “hack”. If you’re not a classical fan, you probably won’t have heard of the guy and so people jump to conclusions. Unfair, perhaps, but people who blame new technology for their woes are usually those who failed elsewhere, or whose talent isn’t able to stand up on its own.

The irony is that the technology he’s attacking is the one that can solve his problems. If his major problem is short-sightedness by his management or labels, he can now bypass them through the use of many online resources – including YouTube. Unfortunately, all he appears to have done here is annoy everyone who paid for his concert while doing nothing to salvage a recording career.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Recording artists

I can agree to all that. I can’t imagine how Youtube can do anything but enhance his career.

One of his videos has over 3 million views and is from 1987. I guess if anything, it might keep people from buying the DVD, but I doubt he gets much from a 25 year old DVD anyway. He’d get a lot more money from a free Youtube video that makes people want to see him in concert.

This incident seems more like diva behavior than anything.

Coogan (profile) says:

so hold on

A concert-goer filmed (presumably) a pianist with a cell phone.

The concert-goer (presumably) paid for a ticket.
There was an audience, so many others paid for a ticket.
The audience was at the Ruhr piano festival, noted in the article as “the largest worldwide gathering of the international pianist elite”, so many, many others paid for tickets.

Sounds like the concert on the whole is pretty successful. How again is Youtube destroying it? If this world-renowned pianist is struggling, maybe it’s not due to Youtube, but it’s because (again, as quoted in the article) of “the relatively few concerts he performs each season”

out_of_the_blue says:

LOOK what your notions have DONE, Mike.

Yet again, your technique of argument is to take the words of an eyewitness:
“On returning, he told the audience that he had lost many recording projects and contracts because music managers had told him: “We’re sorry, that has already been on YouTube.” “The destruction of music because of YouTube is enormous,” he added.”

Then run that through Mystical Mike’s Omniscient Filter, and PRESTO! You just ASSERT the opposite without ANY counter evidence!

Your chutzpah is truly awe-inspiring. You’ve refuted sworn testimony given in a court with no more authority than that it didn’t fit your notions:

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: LOOK what your notions have DONE, Mike.

With all the lack of respect due to OOTB… I do believe the underlying argument. It would not surprise me if this actually was the case… where labels turn an individual away because their content is ‘otherwise available’.

Labels are short sighted, arrogant and stubborn.

That being said, someone of such enormous talent would be far better served, and far more successful, going without labels. Distribution has never been easier or cheaper, and videos or recordings would be great ways to drive live performance sales, which by the sounds of it this individual is familiar with.

Zakida Paul (profile) says:

Re: Re: LOOK what your notions have DONE, Mike.

I am sure it does happen but being turned away from a record label isn’t the death knell for a musician that it used to be.

There is an English musician called Chantel McGregor who was turned away with the line “great voice but girls don’t play guitar like that”. She went on to release her debut album which has received all kinds of acclaim from critics and she has even won British Blues awards.

I would take it as a badge of honour to be turned away by the record labels.

cosmicrat (profile) says:

Over reaction anyone

Some people just freak out at the drop of a hat. Most such people sort of get marginalized by society, but when they are talented artists they get indulged for it.

It’s unfortunate the chilling effect this sort of thing has. What if I want to take a photo of my daughter at her first concert to post on farcebook? Is security going to bum rush me and throw us out?

Anonymous Coward says:

sounds to me like Krystian Zimerman is just another really insecure person who needs his mommy! as for the videoing bit, we all know why the idiots that blamed that on a lost ‘career chance’. to many artists are being screwed into the ground by labels. had the practice have been stopped when it should have decades ago and had the USA not been so keen and so easy to instigate the opportunistic copyright world we live in today, where even a persons crap can be copyrighted, perhaps there would be more sanity around

Rapnel (profile) says:

I was going to be really crass and basically bid him good riddance as I’m sure others would be more than grateful to try and fill the void. But, then I got to this part …Prior to that, he made headlines for non-musical reasons after his Steinway piano was confiscated at JFK airport by US authorities shortly after the 9/11 attacks, who objected to the smell of the glue with which it had been assembled. They went on to destroy it.
and realized that not only does he probably have quite a bit of pent up frustration but there are clearly more dangerous idiots in the wild, let him have his tantrum.

Dr Evil says:

no recording contract for you

could it be because the recording labels he approached (assumed, because if they approached him, Youtube, et al, would not have been an issue) lied to him and for whatever reason (doesnt matter if personal tastes in music, bias against the man, or no real market for another version of this music, etc) and didn’t want to reveal that to him? Possible solution: have the NSA turn over all of the producers email, phone recordings, etc and scan them for proof that its because og Youtube. Because Benzagi(sp?), the children, copyright, terrorism, scandals…

Anonymous Coward says:

Apparently, he does this from time to time

Just search for his name on Google (you hear that OOTB?)…apparently he doesn’t have much of a problem with intermingling his political views during concerts.

Maybe if he just shut the hell up and played the piano, he’d have a record deal of some kind. I dunno about the rest of you, but if I payed good money to see him play, I’d expect him to keep his political views to himself. You know that “time and a place for everything…”

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

It’s interesting how much of the public domain music he plays has been recorded dozens of times by other artists before him, but that hasn’t hurt the market for his work.

There muse be more to this than meets the eye because it’s just too ridiculous, but people recording on the phone while at a classical concert still seems like extremely bad taste.

Cowards Anonymous says:

Record Label: We don’t need you to sign over all rights to your music and profits in exchange for publishing and distributing your music to your audience, you’ve already been published and distributed for free on YouTube.

The record labels were actually doing the pianist a favor by refusing to con him out of his copyrights because he doesn’t need their “services” in the Internet Age. He should thank his audience for promoting his work for him so that he can sell more concert tickets and compose new music.

New Mexico Mark says:

Definitely theft

By taking any kind of photo, he stole that poor pianist’s immortal soul. How dare you claim this isn’t theft?

Seriously though, if someone doesn’t enjoy being recorded when they are performing they are probably in the wrong business. KZ should consider a career as a lighthouse keeper or doing long stints in a forestry fire tower. I think he would be much happier overall. I know we would.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Then maybe he needs to look for someone who isn’t stupid at a label, or go out on his own.

Instead he threw his hands up, walked away and gave all of these reasons it shouldn’t be allowed which when looked at boil down to: it is not worth my effort to find someone who cares enough about me and my music and wants to put it out there.

This newfangled YouTube thing is just a fad and its destroying music!!! Except for those people who are gaining fame with nothing more than a YouTube channel of their own. The world has evolved if the labels like it or not, and you can sit and wait for the labels to maybe catch up or manage to outlaw the new tech… or you can push them to embrace it. I checked, most record label staff aren’t preforming and making money, they are not the talent. Maybe if more artists pushed back when they were being stupid they would listen.

bunch of bastards says:

I suppose most of you know enough about what being a pianist is, and how things are hard for the classical genre as usually the “superior” masses would rather pay for a justin bieber piece of shit ( is he a musician lol)…
Most of you are a bunch of morons that don’ t possess enough intelligence to grasp that classical music ( even if you are a world renown pianist) has harder times than pop, rock or latin because of a reason that’s nothing to do with bad taste or being a lesser artist.

So, for instance, you think lindsay lohan would be more of a ” winner” or more talented, or more skillful just because she’ s everywhere , and anyone’ d know who she is???

Come on, go back to your talentless , dull lives, and your dreaded jobs and fuck off with your ideas of musicians not having a right to make their money out of their ” professions” yes! This is a career, a profession that you actually pursue since childhood and college…and for the rest of your life…

( i would’t ever consider YOUR ignorance a bliss btw ) kiss 😉

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...